In the North Division, the Seattle Sea Dragons and the St. Louis Battlehawks enter Week 10 with identical 6-3 records. The Battlehawks take on the Orlando Guardians on Saturday, while the Sea Dragons will battle the Vegas Vipers on Sunday. If one team wins and the other loses, the winner would clinch a playoff spot as the North Division runner-up.
If both teams win or lose, the tiebreaker will come down to which team has the best-combined ranking in points scored and points allowed in division games. If that's a tie, then the team with the best-combined ranking in points scored and points allowed in all league games will get the spot. Whoever clinches will travel to face the top-seeded D.C. Defenders in the North Division Championship on April 30.
In the South Division, the hunt for the No. 2 spot is between the Arlington Renegades (4-5) and the San Antonio Brahmas (3-6). To clinch, the Renegades need a win against the Houston Roughnecks, who have already clinched the No. 1 spot in the division, or a Brahmas loss to the Defenders. The Brahmas can get in with a win and a Renegades loss.
San Antonio would get the No. 2 spot if they finish with the same record because they would win the strength of victory in all games tiebreaker. Whoever clinches will travel to Houston to face the Roughnecks in the South Division Championship on April 29.
Saturday, 12 p.m., ET | ESPN, ESPN+
Spread: STL -9.0 (47.5)
The Battlehawks find themselves in a predicament after failing to clinch a playoff spot in Week 9 against the Sea Dragons. The 18-point loss was their largest margin of defeat this season. Although they play the team with the worst record in the league, it still may not be as easy as it sounds. While the Guardians have already been eliminated from the postseason, they've been increasingly competitive, giving the Defenders their only loss of the season in Week 7 while losing the past two weeks by a combined margin of four points
Players to watch: Both offenses had passing-game issues last week. The Guardians' quarterbacks struggled against the Brahmas, as Quinten Dormady and Deondre Francois threw for a combined 67 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception. But running back Devin Darrington provided a spark on the ground, finishing with 133 yards and a touchdown. Battlehawks quarterback AJ McCarron also struggled last week, throwing a season-high two interceptions and only 186 yards, his second-lowest total of the season.
Kezirian's pick: Over 47.5. St. Louis is alive for the playoffs but needs some help. Not only do the Battlehawks need a win but they must score a ton of points. They do not know the exact number because they play first this weekend, but they should run a hurry-up offense the entire game.
Raise your hand if you can't believe it's already week 10 ✋ pic.twitter.com/TsadL4wjAY— St. Louis Battlehawks (@XFLBattlehawks) April 19, 2023
Saturday, 3 p.m., ET | ABC, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes
Spread: DC -2.5 (41.5)
The Brahmas got the help they needed last week, staying alive with a win over the Guardians as the Renegades lost to the Defenders. But a win this weekend could be a tall task, as San Antonio faces a Defenders team with the best record in the league and its highest-scoring offense (29.8 points per game). The Defenders' scoring is led by their rushing attack, which leads the league in yards (1,318 yards) and touchdowns (14). Meanwhile, the Brahmas have the league's stingiest defense (17.0 points per game allowed) and the second-lowest scoring offense (15.6).
Players to watch: The Defenders' leading rusher is running back Abram Smith, who leads the league in rushing yards (747). Their run game is complemented by the receiver duo of Chris Blair and Lucky Jackson, who both rank in the top-four in receiving yards. The Brahmas defense is centered around linebacker Jordan Williams, who's first in the league in tackles (82) and tackles for loss (12). Defensive lineman Delontae Scott is tied for second in the league in sacks (7.5).
Kezirian's pick: Under 42. D.C. figures to rest its starters and not score as easily. Although the Brahmas still have something to play for, their offense is very methodical and run-oriented.
Sunday, 3 p.m., ET | ESPN, ESPN+
Spread: ARL -1.0 (42.5)
The Renegades came close to securing a playoff spot last week, losing in overtime to the Defenders. To finish the job they have to beat the Roughnecks. If the Renegades clinch this week, the Divisional Championship Game will be a rematch between these two teams.
Players to watch: Last week, Luis Perez went 31-for-41 and had 335 passing yards, the best performance by a Renegades quarterback all season. Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns also had a season-high 63 receiving yards. Tight end Sal Cannella has been a frequent target with 39 receptions this season, the sixth most in the league. But they will face a Roughnecks defense that boasts defensive back Ajene Harris, who leads the XFL in interceptions (5), and outside linebacker Trent Harris, who's first in sacks (8.5).
Kezirian's pick: Arlington -1. Houston may rest some starters, while Arlington controls its own playoff destiny. And since there is a good chance these two teams will face each other next week in the playoffs, I expect the Roughnecks to use a vanilla offense.
Sunday, 7 p.m., ET | ESPN2, ESPN+
Spread: SEA -8.5 (47.5)
This game, a must-win for the Sea Dragons, is a rematch from Week 3, when Seattle won 30-26. Even with a 2-7 record, the Vipers could be tough competition, having forced opponents to commit three turnovers in each of their last two games.
Players to watch: The Sea Dragons' quarterback-receiver duo of Ben DiNucci and Jahcour Pearson has continued to drive their offense. DiNucci has 2,332 passing yards, while Pearson has 628 receiving yards, both topping the XFL. Vipers quarterback Jalan McClendon had 249 passing yards, two touchdown passes and completed 73% of his throws last week, his best performance since becoming a starter in Week 7. McClendon has thrown five touchdown passes with zero interceptions as a starter.
Kezirian's pick: Seattle -8.5. This has a chance to be one of the better plays all season, assuming St. Louis wins and scores a lot of points. That means the Sea Dragons will be incentivized to light up the scoreboard, while the Vipers figure to play reserves.
Back to work. pic.twitter.com/puZ9kmTNhl— Seattle Sea Dragons (@XFLSeaDragons) April 19, 2023
Best win/loss percentage in division games
Strength in victory in all games -- combined record of opponent wins
Best combined ranking among division teams in points scored and points allowed in all games
Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games
Best net points in all games
Best net touchdowns in all games